Tuesday, April 28, 2015

3 marathons in 4 days part iii)

Here we go again, up before the lark and off into Londonium to run another marathon. In 2005 I ran my first London marathon to raise money for ARUK and I never dreamt I'd still be running marathons 10 years later! Yet here I was about to embark on my 3rd marathon in 4 days, my 46th marathon.

I was feeling rather emotional. I wasn't sure how my body would hold up, if indeed it would, but I felt really good and the important thing was that I believed I could do it - in marathon running it's not just the physical training that's important, your mindset has a huge bearing on how you get on.

When I first started running marathons someone gave me this mantra:

If you believe you can do it then you will do it, but if you think you can't then you probably won't.

I've always remembered that as it struck a chord with me.

This is what the camera did when Mike tried to take a photo of me on the way into London:

But guess what, after much shaking and muttering we finally got it to work for a short while. It was as if it had heard me saying that I thought this might be my last London marathon. Yes, Mike did roll his eyes and say "yeah, right!" but it's so difficult to get a place (unless you're a speedy runner or you get a club place).

I've only managed to get a guaranteed place once when they promised you a place after 5 rejections, which they don't any more, and this time I got in via what's known as the 'extra ballot' where you are given another chance to get one of 1000 places if you pledge your entrance fee to charity (which I always do but never got in that way before!). The other 8 times have been via a Gold Bond place from ARUK which is where you pledge to raise a specific amount for the charity offering you one of their precious places. I've always raised much more than was required but afer 10 years I suspect all my friends are heartily fed up of me pestering them year after year!

When I first started out, ARUK struggled to find anyone to take up their places but now they are a much bigger charity with many more supporters and people desperate to run the marathon for them so I think perhaps newer runners should get a chance. I'd like to think that ARUK will continue to offer me a GB place if I need one though.

When we left home the weather was dull but calm. This changed to pouring with rain, cold and blowing a gale by the time we'd arrived in London. I'd chosen to wear shorts as the temperature was forecast to rise later but I'd taken the precaution of wearing a long-sleeved top under my running vest and I was really glad that I had.

The next few photos, before the camera packed in for the rest of the day, serve as a reminder of what our routine has been for the last 10 years, with the exception of one year when Mike was away on business and I had to go on my own.

We come out of Blackheath station and give a cheery wave to the marshsalls who are just starting to arrive and are still in good spirits

Barriers are unloaded from wagons. They go all along the roads to keep pedestrians off.

We go to the same cafe first thing as they are the only one open when we arrive there. Sometimes we go to another one nearer the Heath later on, especially if it's a cold and wet day as it was on Sunday.

I have a chocolate croissant and a large Americano to start with and Mike has a coffee and something hot - this time it was a sausage butty

It's a small, family-run, cafe with tables crammed together. We noticed they'd added some tables and chairs along the alley outside this year but as it was cold, windy and raining we stayed inside. I'm sure they must do a roaring trade as they have an excellent menu with loads of vegetarian options and lovely looking cakes.

For the first time ever, the lady behind the counter was very chatty. I soon realised why; her father has recently been diagnosed with dementia and she'd spotted my vest. We chatted about how difficult it is to juggle a job and keep the person in their own home.  Although he has carers who come and see him each day I was saddened to hear that they are only alloted 12 minutes a day with him. That is completely unacceptable! Thankfully they have a large enough family to be able to pop in and see him throughout the day but, as Mike and I know only too well, this was beginning to take its toll.

As it was still wet and horrid outside we decided to stay in the same cafe a while longer. I then stunned Mike by saying I fancied poached egg on toast. This was most unusual on 2 counts; I am not a great fan of eggs anyway (except in cake of course!) and try to avoid them because of my high cholesterol, plus I never eat a big breakfast before a run of any sort, not even a marathon. But I knew I wanted an egg so my body must have been telling me I needed the protein. So I polished off 2 eggs on toast and a mug of green tea and felt replete and raring to go.

It was still a bit early to go to the start but we decided to have a little stroll up the road to stretch our legs and for a change of scenery. That soon came to an abrupt end because it was just too cold to stand around so we headed into our second cafe and were lucky to grab the last 2 seats before people started to stream in from every direction to get out of the cold. We had a window seat so downed another coffee whilst people-watching.

Then it was time to head off to the start. Mike pinned my number on for me and I stuck my disposable plastic poncho over my jacket as it was still drizzly and horrid. The camera managed one last photo before we parted. 

Was this a sign that it would all go horribly wrong? Nah, it was just the camera going wrong, not me, I was completely chilled out!!!

Now I haven't mentioned it so far but I was feeling really good both mentally and physically. The only bit of me that was sore was my right shoulder and Mike had a good poke in there before we left which helped enormously.

In fact I was feeling fabulous. That sounds like the kiss of death doesn't it?! But I'm jumping ahead of myself.

Now I'll just share a teeny bit of what happened next but without too much detail because it was not pleasant. They've introduced something called female urinals at the start of the marathon and as I needed to go I decided to be brave and try them out. I picked up  one of the cardboard funnel things they provide then walked into the tent to a scene of bare bottoms, women perched in precarious positions, screeching & giggling amidst lots of grumbling about not being tall enough to get the angle right. I heard one lady scream "it's all going down my legs!" and another shouted "it's running into my bottom!" 

Oh my goodness, what a mess. I won't go into the details, suffice to say that I soon understood what those women meant! I then proceeded immediately to the portaloos where I availed myself of the wet wipes I'd had the foresight to load into my baggage. Never again!

Then there was an awful lot of hanging arround waiting for the start with nothing much to look at. I knew a few people who were starting in the same area but they weren't around. It was too cold to stand in one place for long but we had to put our bags onto the lorries about 40 minutes before the start so I had to take my jacket off but retained the plastic poncho. I'm so glad I did as that wind was wicked as the Heath is very exposed. At least being so cold took my mind off the running bit.

Finally we set off and I started my watch as soon as the race started rather than when I crossed the start line - there is a chip system which records from the time you cross the start line to when you cross the finish line. This is why you'll sometimes see 2 sets of times for - the time from the start of the race to your finish time (the actual time) and the time you crossed the start line to the time you cross the finish line (this is known as your chip time. You also run across timing mats at certain points throughout the race. This is important because in the past people have cheated and missed out sections to record a faster time.

I'd decided to just run how I felt without paying any attention to my pace and that's exactly what I did. It took me about 6 or 7 minutes to get to the start line. I felt fine. Nothing hurt to begin with although my shoulder started to ache after a while but I ignored it. It was only when I reached the 15k marker and I went past a 5 hour pacer (these are runners who lead groups around to attain a specific finishing time) that I looked at my watch and thought "OK, this is looking good!" I decided that I'd just carry on at my comfortable pace for as long as I could then slow down if I had to later on.

I reached the halfway point in 2:18. Although my half marathon race time is faster than that I've never done that before in a marathon. I wondered if I should slow down but dismissed that thought as I felt fine.

Next was Narrow Street where I had to look out for the ARUK support team who are always opposite the Grapes Pub. I always forget just how far down the road it is and just as I started to panic that I'd missed them I suddenly spotted Laura shouting at me, next to her was Robin and then Tim doing his usual David Bailey act. He gets some great photos of everyone (that is if you don't mind looking slightly deranged like this silly woman below):

Just after Mudchute, around mile 17, I was looking for the Runner's World cheering groups when a man in a mankini type thing came into view up ahead and it was not a pleasant view at all as it had ridden right up his bottom. Euuuuurrrrrggggh! I just had to get past him as I couldn't stand watching that for any longer and so I screeched to Laura who I'd spotted there and just carried on running without stopping for a hug.

I kept waiting for the tiredness to hit me but it didn't and then around the 18 mile mark I was alongside the 4:45 hours pacer and I had this silly idea that I might be able to do that. Then she went ahead and I dismissed it as a silly thought.

The spectators were magnificent as always and I had to get used to people shouting my real name rather than 'knitting lady' or 'Redhead'. It made a lovely change not to have any pressure and just to run for the enjoyment of it. My neck and shoulders thanked me too.

At the 35k mark, that's around 21 miles, the clock time was 3:53 and I had this mad thought that I was going to finish in under 5 hours. Then I wondered if I could perhaps equal my very first London marathon time of 4:55 back in 2005. I still felt fine and so I kept on pushing forwards and came up alongside the 4:45 pacer again.

I looked at my watch and something dawned on me; I was at the 40k marker in around 4:35 so I'd got a mile and a bit to go and it had taken me about 6 minutes to get over the start line……………oh my goodness………..my smile got bigger……….people kept shouting "go on Susie, you're looking fantastic"………..I felt fantastic………I pushed and I pushed……... and then I was on Birdcage walk and alongside Buckingham Palace and I could see the finish line and I was speeding up and I was crying and I was laughing and as I sprinted (yes, sprinted) towards the finish line I grabbed the hand of the lady to my left and we crossed the line together……………..handinhand (at the very first London marathon 35 years ago the two runners leading joined hands and crossed the finish line together and they'd asked all runners to do the same)………..and the clock said 4:50 something and I knew I'd broken the 4:45 barrier but I didn't know by exactly how much until we got home later.

I phoned Mike and he couldn't believe I was phoning him so early as I'd told him not to expect a call for quite some time. He was beside himself with pride and I couldn't wait to see him. I  must have had the biggest smile ever on my face as people kept hugging me and saying well done.

Oh my goodness. If that was indeed my last London marathon then what a way to go!

Here's my official finish time -


Can you tell I'm pleased?!

This was my 3rd marathon in 4 days and not only did I break the 4:45 barrier, which I never thought I'd manage, I was 13 minutes faster than the first time I ran it back in 2005! Over the years I've tried many times to break that barrier but something has always gone wrong (usually breathing problems) so I had really given up any hope of doing it.

I'm normally finishing an hour after this and it was a shock to see all the crowds. It's a good job Mike's tall so I could spot him at our meeting place. There was much proud hugging and looking at my watch and medal. 

Then we headed off to visit the ARUK after party which was nearby. I was delighted to see that it was packed with people which goes to show how far they've come over the years - they had a record number of runners this year.

Harriet had organised the event and she really did us proud. She'd asked advice on what runners would like to eat and I'd offered some suggestions and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Even better than the food, they'd produced special Team ARUK medals for everyone which was such a lovely idea.

We didn't stay very long because it was very busy and cramped and we needed to catch our train but we did manage to chat to a few people and have a couple more photos taken by Tim.

This London marathon was very special because it's 10 years since my mum died and also I wanted to dedicate it to Wendy who can't run any more so I wanted her to share in my London marathon adventure.

Here are my times for the 3 marathons in 4 days:

1 St. George's Day marathon 4:52:01 (marathon 44)
2 The Wonderland Caucus Race 5:43:19 (marathon 45)
3 London marathon 4:42:17 (marathon 46)

I decided to take photos of my running numbers and medals all together but somebody had other ideas:

She pounced on the numbers

Pulled out the ribbons (that was a great game!!!)

So in the end I just bundled them together quickly and took a shot

Not only are Traviss's medals fabulous, the ribbbons are too.  Here's a close-up of part of the Caucus ribbon.

On Monday I did catch-up interviews with BBC Radio Sussex and BBC Kent and was absolutely delighted when some kind people sponsored me as a result. Thank you so much.

So that's it for a few weeks. I just need my neck and shoulder to settle down a bit before I do too much crochet or knitting and I've got a massage booked for next week by which time I should have healed nicely (touch wood) for my next 2 marathons.

I'm off into London tomorrow to do take part in a discussion with people from the Academic Health Science Network at UCL about Join dementia research which sounds interesting.

3 marathons in 4 days part ii)

The Wonderland Caucus Race (or how I ended up running 3 marathons in 4 days)

"What IS a caucus-race? said Alice; not that she wanted much to know, but the Dodo had paused as if it thought that SOMEBODY ought to speak, and no one else seemed inclined to say anything."

"Why", said the Dodo, "the best way to explain it is to do it".
Yet another event from Traviss and Rachel who have me well and truly hooked on their events because they are all within driving distance, are great value for money with fab medals and goody bags and are very friendly and inclusive. I ran my first event of theirs in October last year and I described it as a Caucus race then a few days later they announced this race to coincide with 150 years since Alice's adventures in Wonderland was published!

At that stage I'd already entered the St. George's Day marathon which I wrote about in my last post and I'd got a place in the London marathon which was 4 days later. Clearly, any thought of doing another marathon inbetween would be madness wouldn't it and so I put it out of my mind for a while. But I kept just popping along to the website and thinking how perfect it sounded and then they published a photo of the medal and I just HAD to do it. I was powerless to resist (you'll understand why when you see this beauty at the end).

The evening before I needed to adorn my hat with a Wonderland theme so I had to remove all traces of the St. George's Day decoration and start again. I'd decided to attach one of my small bunnies to the top of my cap and then cover the Kent 50 logo with some blue and white crochet (Alice's dress is blue and she wore a white pinafore) then I decided I wanted some hearts to represent the Queen of Hearts but by then I was getting tired and so I just added one of my pink, pressed tin hearts to the back. Actually, I'm glad I did as the bunny has pink under-paws and inner ears so it matched beautifully. The camera was still buzzing happily and so I had to resort to photos taken with my computer!

I slept well the night before and was out of bed and raring to go at 4:15am. I wasn't sure how my legs would feel when I got up but they felt absolutely fine. I've only ever done a double once before and that was in Dover last year and I'd had a massage inbetween but I felt it had been a bit too rough as my legs really hurt on the 2nd day. This time I just massaged my legs gently when I had a bath and Mike gave me a good shoulder rub which I always need since I had a nasty car crash a few years ago. I remembered to eat some brekkie this time and I took my drink. The traffic was kind to me and I arrived at my destination in good time.

I took the camera came with me just in case I managed to shake it into submission but it didn't want to play at all so I left it in the car.  I'll do my best to describe some of what I saw but am very grateful to Julian Porter who kindly allowed me to use his beautiful photos.

The event was held at Samphire Hoe Country Park. To get to it you have to go through a tunnel, which you can see in a photo if you click on the link, and it's like entering wonderland. There's a 3 minute wait at traffic lights at each end of the tunnel as it's only wide enough for 1 vehicle and as I sat waiting I looked at the cliffs and thought that perhaps it would be hard to get a mobile phone signal once I passed through the tunnel and so I gave Mike a quick call to let him know I'd arrived. Thank goodness I did as all I got when I'd gone through was a message from a French transmitter telling me there was a limited signal, which actually meant none!

There were lots of people milling around when I arrived so I registered and got changed then went for a look around.  In the photos you'll see the white cliffs towering over one side, on the other is scrubland and then the sea. The first part of the route took us on tarmac/ grit paths alongside the cliffs, adjacent to the railway (it was nice to see trains going past occasionally). This part was not flat and there was one hill that drained the energy from a lot of people, especailly when it warmed up later in the day. I was fine going uphill but I'm always careful going downhill as I am a bit fearful (nasty fall as a child - I'll quite happily run up steps but hate going down them).

Then the route turned towards the sea, along the seawall. It was just a large expanse of concrete and I was glad I was wearing my HOKAs (aka my clown shoes!) as they have really made a difference to the arthritis in my feet as I don't feel a thing through them. When you reached the end of the concrete section you turned round and went back to the start.

As it was a Caucus race you could complete as many laps as you liked within the time limit of 6 hours. Some people completed one lap whilst others completed either marathon distance (well, actually 26.93 miles so a long marathon!) or further.

The weather varied from cool and bright to very warm and then the cloud came down and it went cold for my last 2 laps. I really enjoyed this race, mostly because of the camaraderie and I just love seeing people on each round and the encouragement you get. It's just so friendly!

What a fabulous Mad Hatter outfit! That's Julian on the right.

Just before the start. I'd stitched bunny quite firmly onto my cap but I was still a bit worried he might fall off.

Traviss making the usual announcements

You can see one of the many Cheshire Cats and a Queen of Hearts

I loved this lady's Mad Hatter outfit!

I must give a mention here to Joe Hawkins who ran the furthest (38.5 miles in 5:14:59) in this race, he also came first in the St. George's Day marathon the day before (3:11:49), ran a half marathon the day after and then went on to complete the London marathon in 2:56:05.
Respect to you Joe, excellent work!

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum
The German lady with her 2 lovely Dachshunds. I spoke to her beforehand and she told me that they love doing parkruns with her and that they would be doing 2 laps of the course which would have been about 7 miles. Very impressive for little legs!

The wonderful cake created by Heather from Hamilton's Cakes and Bakes. Isn't it magnificent! Sadly it was all gone by the time I'd finished.

I decided that I would not walk at all, even the uphills, as my legs felt fine but I just slowed my pace down and enjoyed the views. I finished the 26.93 marathon in 5:43:19 and felt absolutely fine. Now take a look at this beautiful medal; and you'll iunderstand why I had to do this:

My favourite marathon medal

I had a good journey home then it was a case of repeat what happened the night before - bath, eat, wine, chat, sleep except the next day I had a day off ahead of the London marathon.

Whilst I'd been out BBC Radio Kent had phoned to book an interview for Monday to hear how I'd got on with all the marathons and BBC Radio Sussex had wanted to speak to me that afternoon but I was still running.

On Saturday morning I leapt out of bed and suddenly realised that my legs felt fantastic. The only pain I had was in my right shoulder and Mike gave me a good massage to loosen it off. I couldn't believe my legs felt so good and I went for a short run just to loosen them off. I decided not to do anything too strenuous that day and so contented myself with baking a rosemary foccaccia and making some pasta sauce for our evening meal. 

In the midst of my bread-making the phone rang and it was BBC Radio Sussex asking if I could have a chat with Danny Pike in the next few minutes. I scraped the bread dough off my hands and had a lovely chat with him about what I'm doing and why. It was especially nice as he was one of the first people I chatted to when I embarked on my marathon fund-raising adventure for Alzheimer's Research UK 10 years ago and I've spoken with him many times since then. He kept emphasising the 3 marathons in 4 days and then politely asked if I minded telling people my age - of course not; I'm proud that I can still put one front of the other at the grand old age of nearly 58!!!!!

Mike and I had a lovely day and went to bed nice and early as we had to be up at silly-o'clock the next day for the London marathon. I did worry slightly that my legs were still feeling fine and wondered if they would still feel OK for London but you'll have to wait and see how I got on with my 3rd marathon in 4 days as I've got such a lot to write about……………….

Monday, April 27, 2015

3 marathons in 4 days part i)

St. George's Day marathon

I was very excited to be taking part in this event as I'd seen photos of it last year and it looked tremendous fun - dressing up, running by the sea for a few hours and then getting a medal being my idea of a jolly good day out!

But what should I wear? I searched for red and white things associated with St George's Day but I didn't want to wear anything with an image of a dragon being killed or anything that could be deemed to be racist in any way. Finally I found just the right thing which you'll see later on.

First I needed a cap and this cap from the Kent 50 back in 2007 was white once, before I started using as my gardening cap, so I decided to use it. Out came the trainer whitener which I applied using rubber gloves as it was rather messy procedure and it was really smelly until it dried.


Then I needed some nice red crochet to form a cross on the top. Tilly helped enormously by plonking herself on my chest which meant I had to crochet around her! I think she must have sensed that something was going on, bless her.

Then all I had to do was stitch it in place; not too firmly though as it had to be doctored the next evening for my 2nd marathon.

I went to sleep quickly but was awoken at 11pm by a vehicle outside with flashing lights and men wearing fluorescent jackets running up and down the lane flashing torches. As we live on a quiet country lane this was rather unusual. After about 5 minutes the vehicle with the flashing lights disappeared and we settled down again only to be disturbed by the same thing a few minutes later. They parked right outside our house and the flashing lights lit up the whole room. Then it got even worse as the men with the fluorescent jackets started to scrape the ground against something metallic, which we've now seen is some sort of drain cover, which must have been hidden in the undergrowth and their movement kept setting off our security lights so we had to turn them off. This nonsense went on until about 1am so when I got up at 4:30am to prepare for the marathon I wasn't feeling especially refreshed! 

Mike said the next day he had 2 phone calls from elderly neighbours along the lane who'd been very worried by the disturbance, poor things. One of them had even got his shotgun at the ready!

Here's my final outfit. The photo was taken at 5:30am just before I left to drive off to Deal for the marathon.

I'd worn vest and shorts as the forecast was for the weather to be warm later but when I arrived it was really cold and windy and I'd forgotten to pack a long-sleeved top just in case. Silly Susie. Thankfully I carry an emergency jacket in the boot, just in case I break down, which happens to be red and white so I wore that for the first couple of hours.

I managed to take a few photos before the camera refused to stop juddering and work at all, despite being shaken and shouted at!

View along the seafront

A show of red and white. There were several men wearing chainmail costumes and lots of flags too

Bonnie the dog chose the union flag to adorn her harness - she's doing her excited, please stroke me dance for me…….

…...whilst Caroline, her human, chose a child's dragon outfit together with her kilt
Can we go yet? Can I eat that?

Waiting patiently for my camera to stop shaking!

At the start there were the usual announcements and then we all sang Jerusalem to celebrate England and St. George

Then we were off and boy was that wind cold and strong. Brrrrrrr! It was exactly the same route as for my 39th marathon  last November so you get a feel for the place, but add a grey sky and some strong wind to get a feel for how it was onThursday.

I didn't have a specific finish time in mind and I wasn't going to push myself as this was just the first of 3 marathons so I set off at a comfortable pace and just pootled along. Well not quite pootling as there was a lot of head-down-into-the-wind going on until after a couple of hours the wind dropped and the sun came out whereupon I took my jacket off and caught the sun - with lovely lines across my legs where my shorts had reached and criss-cross marks on my back from my sports bra - how very attractive!

There were quite a few supporters out and about wearing red and white. We also got filmed by several people using their mobile phones. A convoy of tarmacking (sp?) wagons went past us twice and each time they beeped their horns and I saw one of the men filming us so we'll probably appear on You Tube.

So what kept my mind occupied as I couldn't take any photos? All sorts of things. The more I looked around me on each lap, the more things I spotted which only served to highlight how much I missed the camera! Shapes, patterns, colours, birds, people, smells, sounds were all around me. I watched my fellow runners, some running strongly, others forcing themselves onwards, all pushing themselves towards their own personal goals. At theses events there are many people who want to become members of the 100 marathon club and I've watched several people reach the magic number and realise their dream; what an amazing achievement.

I must mention that as it was a long drive to the venue and as I'd been up at 4:30am after little sleep I really hadn't felt like anything to eat first thing (naughty Susie!) and realised at the start that I'd left my drinks bottle at home (stupid Susie!) thus breaking all the rules of marathoning. Anyway there was a well-stocked aid station with water and juice to drink plus biscuits, cake and crisps etc.

After each lap I had some water and ate 2 crisps and 3 jammie dodgers (they're biscuits in case you haven't heard of them) during the course of the marathon so you could be forgiven if you thought my performance would suffer. On the contrary, I finished in 4:52:01 which is the first time I'd gone below 5 hours since the Kent Roadrunner marathon last year which I completed in 4:55:03. I was very pleased with that, although rather surprised. I suspect the faster time was partly because I wasn't stopping to take photos and just concentrated on running!

The super medal - photo pinched off Traviss's website

I headed home to fall into the bath, eat, celebrate with a glass of wine, catch up with Mike, decorate my cap anew and then head off to bed in readiness for another early start for marathon number 2 of 3.

A promo for Join dementia research and Guinness World Records

I couldn't think of a snappy title so I went for the 'it does what it says on the tin' approach!

There are quite a few photos, some from my camera (which died and then was resuscitated briefly and is to be replaced asap) so I've divided my updates into 4 so they are easier to get through. This first update just covers Wednesday last week.

The London marathon EXPO

First I must start at the beginning which was Wednesday. This was the only day I had available to go to the EXPO (that's the exhibition held at the Excel centre where everyone has to go to collect their number and timing chip) to collect my running number etc. for the London marathon.

I had a presentation to make on the main stage at 3:10pm and then a radio interview after that so I didn't need to leave home too early in the day. However, I abhor tardiness and so always factor in plenty of time to get wherever I want to go, plus I wanted to have a look around the exhibition beforehand so I allowed an extra 2 hours as contingency.

Well thank goodness I did!

I checked that the trains were running OK several times before I left home and everything looked fine but when I arrived at the railway station I heard an annoucement that the train heading in the other direction had been cancelled. Even though it was going the opposite way it set off alarm bells in my mind.

Anyway, my train arrived on time but you won't be surprised to hear that there were problems. As we left the station the train seemed to be going very slowly and then it stopped and I sat looking at this view for 20 minutes whilst the driver and guard kept announcing that they didnt'know what the delay was but we were being held in that position for the moment.

It was actually rather interesting to see this up close as it's part of the work done to try and control landslip, which caused  major problems on our line last year
When we finally moved off they announced that a vehicle had collided with a bridge and that this was being inspected to ensure it was safe for the trains to pass under or over (I can't remember which). Well, at least we were moving again; until we ended up sitting in a station for another aeon until they finally announced that the train would be terminated there and we should get off and catch another train into central London. 

I did however use the time to hand out some leaflets for join dementia research to everyone in my carriage as I had a captive audience. I was wearing my JDR tee shirt in readiness for the EXPO so that was handy.

Taken on my computer before I left home as the camera was misbehaving

I won't give  a blow by blow account, suffice to say that a journey that should have taken 2 hours 15 minutes took 4 hours 30 minutes door to door, some of which was spent standing crammed into a carriage like sardines in a tin. At one point Mike phoned to check as I was OK as he was worried I hadn't phoned him to say I'd arrrived safely. This brought much hilarity in the carriage as I had to jiggle around to reach into my bag for the phone and I apologised for disturbing everyone in the process!

When I finally arrived in London it became a race against time to get to the EXPO. I had a tube journey then ran to catch the Dockland Light Railway to the venue. I found that I could shake my camera into submission to stop it buzzing and juddering sometimes and when I managed it I took some photos from the train to give a feel for the area:

Interesting patterns formed by railing and windows

A pretty church surrounded by modernist buildings

It was nice to see some greenery amidst the rather industrial landscape

I've no idea what this building is but I liked the patterns and colours 

A massive complex, part of which was a hotel

There were huge cranes everywhere - there was so much building work going on

Looking towards the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - you can just make out the Arcelormital Orbit structure to the left of the centre

What are these armadillo-like structures? 

Hoorah, my final destination at last!

Crossing the walkway from the station you are left in mno doubt who is sponsoring the London  marathon

This is the Sunborn Yacht Hotel which looked amazing and very luxurious.

This year marks the 35th running of the London marathon and they were asking everyone to hold hands with a fellow runner as they crossed the line which is what happened at the first ever event. A lovely idea.

As you enter the exhibition you are greeted by a bank of booths and you have to find the one corresponding to your running number. As I'd arrived with only 30 minutes to spare before my interview I had to do a whistlestop tour of the exhibitors.

I found the running medal stand and in his photo you can see 4 marathon medals I'm hoping to add to my collection very soon - from the left i) the Tolkien marathon (September), ii) Kent Road Runner (May), iv) Battle of Britain (August), viii) Cakeathon (May)

One of the small stages where experts were giving tips on nutrition etc
I was there with Guinness World Records, as a charity fund-raiser, and because I've run with them 6 times in the past.  I was delighted that they asked me to speak even though I was just running this year rather than going for a GWR.

We were on the large stage in front of lots of picnic tables and seats where weary folks could take a break and listen to a wide variety of speakers plus fun games and a troopo of dancers.
We were interviewed on-stage for 10 minutes and I was asked to explain my reasons for doing it etc and it was an excellent opportunity to introduce JDR, which of course I did. I left some leaflets on the tables afterwards so perhaps someone will take a look. I also left some with the girls on the Alzheimer's Society stand who sadly didn't know anything about JDR so I must mention this them. ARUK didn't have a stand but maybe they will in the future as they have more and more runners joining them each year.

There will hopefully be some photos of us on-stage eventually but the nice people from GWR will be taking a few days off to recover from their involvement at the London marathon

Bye-bye exhibition. I hope my journy home is better…...

View of cable cars  I bet they have a fantastic view from up there. 

The O2 stadium
So what about the journey home? I have to confess that I was rather anxious, bearing in mind I had to get up really early the next day to travel to my marathon. I managed to get good connections from the EXPO to Charing Cross where I was dismayed to find that the train I was expecting to catch had been changed to stop only at the larger stations so I had to wait another hour for the next one. At least when that arrived everything went smoothly.

In the end I'd spent 7.5 hours travelling which is almost twice the time it should have taken!